Showtime sent out a press release recently, noting that Gus Johnson will be taking over play-by-play duties on Showtime Championship Boxing, replacing veteran broadcaster Steve Albert in a mildly surprising bit of news.
The release also stated that Albert, who first started calling Showtime fights back in 1987, will still fill in on occasion when Johnson's CBS Sports commitments take precedence.
I like Steve Albert, really, even though I've harped on his commentary a bit over the last couple years. I do that because harping on commentators comes naturally to me -- most of them stink. Steve, though, did not stink.
Gus Johnson is a good play-by-play man and I look forward to hearing him call some fights for Showtime. If he stinks, hey, Steve Albert's always available.
Chances are, Gus won't stink, either, and he's got a familiar voice that lends further "big sport" credibility to the product, at least ideally. If he meshes well with Al Bernstein, it could be a phenomenal team that rivals any combination of HBO's commentators. As much as I like Steve Albert, I always felt his biggest flaw was not quite being able to make a fight seem even bigger than it is. I maintain that Jim Lampley does this brilliantly. Maybe Gus will be able to turn a great fight into something even more exciting.
We'll see. For now, I cautiously applaud the move. Steve says it's a decision he came to to step back from boxing.
And if you're wondering, yes, Gus knows his boxing. He has in the past called the Broadway Boxing series as well as the NYC Golden Gloves tournament. He did well with MMA on CBS, giving that horrible show some professionalism. He should be fine.